South Sudan calls for ceasefire in S. Kordofan

8 June, 2011 (International Business Tribune)

A senior member of south Sudan's main party on Wednesday called for a ceasefire in the border state of Southern Kordofan, a potential flashpoint in the build-up to the secession of the south in July.

Clashes broke out between north Sudan's army and armed groups, who see themselves as aligned with the south, in the state capital Kadugli over the weekend, said U.N. and local officials.

The oil-producing state in is north Sudan but borders both the south and the strife-torn Darfur region, the scene of a separate insurgency.

Southern Kordofan is home to many fighters who sided with the south against the north during decades of civil war and fear being isolated after the south declares independence.

The fighting started after northern forces attempted to disarm some of the armed groups, said Yasir Arman from the south's dominant Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM).

"We call for an immediate ceasefire, and to start dialogue immediately," Arman, who heads the SPLM's northern wing, told Reuters.

"The leadership of the SPLM north is ever-ready to sit with the (ruling northern) National Congress Party to get a solution that will bring permanent peace ... Disarming the SPLA north, if it continues, will bring a big crisis," he added.

The fighters in Southern Kordofan are still referred to as members of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA) -- the southern military -- although south Sudan says they are no longer part of its army.

A spokesman for the northern army was not immediately available to comment, but the northern military has previously said the situation in Southern Kordofan was stable and blamed southern-allied forces for starting any fighting in the area.

One witness said troops from the SPLA and from the northern army were also fighting in the town of Abu Jebiha in Southern Kordofan.

Southern Kordofan has the most productive oilfields that will be left in the north after the split, which could see Khartoum lose up to 75 percent of Sudan's 500,000 barrels per day of oil output.


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